Several years ago, a San Diego man’s touching YouTube duet with his young daughter captured the hearts of America and catapulted him to instant fame. Today, the viral star is using his voice to battle immigration issues concerning his own mother, who he says just wants to come home.
Who can forget Jorge Narvaez and his adorable daughter, Alexa? In 2010, the devoted dad covered the hit song “Home” alongside his daughter in a YouTube video that quickly went viral. The duo even appeared on the ‘Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
Today, Narvaez is singing the same tune but with a different purpose. He’s lending his voice to the ongoing debate over immigration in hopes of helping his mother, Esther Alvarado, 45.
Narvaez said the song “Home” has a deeper meaning now. It’s the family’s theme song to help bring his mother back home to San Diego.
Alvarado – a citizen of Mexico – was detained last month by immigration authorities after taking part in a protest alongside other Mexican mothers separated from their families in the United States.
The women marched through Mexico before surrendering themselves to U.S. Border Patrol agents in San Diego’s Otay Mesa area, seeking asylum. However, they were denied that asylum and detained by authorities.
Like many other families, Narvaez said he and his daughters are now living with the pain of being separated from his mother.
“It’s been horrible to know she can’t come to this side of the country,” he said.
In an effort to drum up support for his mother’s move to the U.S., Narvaez has released a new version of “Home” on his YouTube channel, this time adding his youngest daughter, Eliana, to the mix. He’s hoping the song will be an instrument of change to free his mother.
“We sing this son to help people see it’s not just about immigration – it’s about family,” he told NBC 7 Friday.
In the video, after the song wraps, Narvaez and his kids hold up a photo of his mother and he tells viewers: “If you believe in family reunification, please support the National Immigrant Youth Alliance and also the Bring Them Home Project.”
A petition is linked to the bottom of the video.
Narvaez said his YouTube fans – all 457,000 of them – have been very supportive of his new song and mission to bring his mom home.
“The purpose of my YouTube channel is family – being a family. My mom being absent doesn’t make sense. That’s why a lot of my fans stand in solidarity. They see my pain, they know who she is,” he said. “It hurts to see that nobody can do anything.”
According to Narvaez, his mother and father crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally in the 1980s with 1-year-old Narvaez in tow. In 2007, she returned to Mexico in an effort to begin the filing process to become a legal, permanent U.S. resident through her second husband, who’s a U.S. citizen.
However, seven years later, her struggle to legally cross the border continues, despite having three sons who are U.S. citizens, including Narvaez’s brother, who’s in the Army.
“He fought for his country. He spilled blood and coming back home to find out he’s still at war to get my mom back is embarrassing,” Narvaez added.
Still, the family’s fight will persist.
Narvaez is hoping his appeals, his daughters’ appeals and the power of song will pay off in the end.
Recently, at a rally, Alexa had this to say: “I want my grandmommy to come to the U.S. because it hurts seeing her struggle.”
Narvaez’s goal is to enlist the help of San Diego-based U.S. Representative Juan Vargas and San Antonio, Texas Mayor Julian Castro.
“I urge Juan Vargas and Julian Castro to support my mother and support her release because my mom is a San Diegan, and she deserves to be with her family. She does not deserve to be behind bars,” he said.
NBC 7 reached out to immigration officials regarding Alvarado’s case. Officials said she remains in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the San Diego area, pending her asylum hearing.
Narvaez said Alvarado has already been denied asylum once. Her appeal is scheduled for next week.